Your shirt is sticking to you,
you smell disgusting,
you’re bumping around in a fifteen-passenger van with seventeen people in it,
and you’re in the middle of nowhere –
You might be on a mission trip!
These are just a few of the things Chris (my husband) and I got to experience in Costa Rica. And if you’ve ever traveled on a short-term mission trip, you very well may have experienced the same things!
After every mission trip, I like to set aside time to process. I ponder what God did on the trip, how I felt throughout the trip, how I feel after returning home, what impact we may have had on the local people, etc. Sometimes this processing is straightforward and easy, other times it is strained and confusing. In all honesty, I’m not completely sure where I’m at after returning home from our trip to Costa Rica. Lucky for you, this time you get to participate in my time of processing!
Nothing about this trip was exceptionally unique. Of course, every trip is unique in its own regard. In fact, we were originally supposed to travel to Nicaragua, but civil uprisings forced a change of plans. I’ve grown accustomed to this kind of fluidity among mission trips. We make a plan, follow the plan, then adjust when flights get delayed, people change their minds, or any number of other random occurrences transpire.
Fortunately, after the location change, this trip progressed with only small bumps along the way. Once we shifted from Nicaragua to Costa Rica, we began preparations for a jungle village in the very northern region of the country. The local, long-term missionary we partner with has spent a significant amount of time in this village, and we had the privilege of jumping in alongside that ministry. We traveled into the sticky, hot, humid, muddy jungle, and we saw God work in the same spectacular ways He does in our own lives. God is good, and He is the same no matter where you go! This is one of my absolute favorite things about missions. You get to see God move in the hearts of those who have nothing AND those who have everything.
Now, about my own processing of the trip: as routine as this trip felt for me, it has still stirred my heart. I have realized new things about myself, and I have many more questions about where God is leading Chris and me in ministry. Short-term mission trips are truly incredible. They have the power to turn our world upside down, pull us closer to God, force us to delve into the depths of our hearts, ruin us for the normal. I have thrived on this all my life (literally, my entire life). But this trip to Costa Rica is opening my eyes to new wells inside my soul. I am seeing clearly that I desire to help people get wrecked by short-term mission trips (wrecked in a good way, of course!), but I do not want to stop ministering to them there. I want to continue to walk with them afterwards. How? I have no idea, but I’m okay with waiting for answers.
So, if you’ve ever traveled on a mission trip with me, you can bet that I probably still think of you from time to time. I hope you’re thriving. And I’d love to hear from you!